House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has vowed to release the security footage from the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol in its entirety in what may yet turn out to be a risky move.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, McCarthy said he intends to make public the thousands of hours of footage from the insurrection—something Republicans have long called for, as part of attempts to exonerate both lawmakers and civilians accused of wrongdoing in connection to the riots.
McCarthy said that he would consider releasing all the footage as the “public should see what happened” that day, rather than rely on the report from the House Select Committee which investigated the attack.
In December, after several live presentations detailing evidence and witness testimonies, the January 6 committee released an 845-page report accusing Donald Trump of being the head of a “multi-part conspiracy” to overturn the 2020 election results and of being the “central cause” of the Capitol riots.
“I watched what Nancy Pelosi did, where she politicized it,” McCarthy said.
“The first time in the history as a Speaker—not allowing the minority to a committee, to pick and choose,” he added, in reference to how Pelosi rejected two of McCarthy’s five choices of GOP lawmakers to join the January 6 panel, prompting the then GOP House leader to withdraw his remaining three picks.
“We watch the politicization of that. They should see what happened instead of a report for a political basis,” Mc
Carthy said. “We are looking through that and I want to be thoughtful about it.”
It is unclear how much more information will be considered for the public release of all the footage from the January 6 riot, given there has already been a lengthy House investigation and a criminal investigation that has been reviewing the footage for the past two years.
However, there is still the risk that McCarthy may inadvertently publicize previously unseen, damaging information about Republican lawmakers already under scrutiny for their actions and rhetoric before the January 6 attack.
There is also the chance that the release of the footage could bring newfound attention back to the January 6 attack, even though the Democrats are no longer in control of the House and all congressional inquiries into the riot shut down.
A number of GOP lawmakers have previously demanded the release of the January 6 footage as part of calls for more transparency into what occurred during the riot.
In July 2022, a number of GOP congresspeople, including Texas’ Louie Gohmert, Florida’s Matt Gaetz, and Arizona’s Andy Biggs, wrote a letter to the Capitol Police Board demanding the full release of the footage.
The lawmakers cited a section of a federal code that permits members of the House to “obtain information from the Capitol Police regarding the operations and activities of the Capitol Police that affect the Senate and House of Representatives” while making their demands.
In February, Republicans on the House Administration Committee urged the full release of the January 6 footage so allegations that some GOP lawmakers gave “reconnaissance tours” of the Capitol to those who went on to storm the building the following day.
It is reported that McCarthy’s promise to release the January 6 security footage was a part of the concessions he made in order to convince a number of hard-line House Republicans, including Gaetz, to support him as House Speaker following over a dozen failed rounds of voting.
“Rep. Matt Gaetz has revealed yet another promise that Kevin McCarthy made in his bid to become speaker: agreeing to release all the security camera footage from the Capitol on January 6,” tweeted CNN‘s Melanie Zanona.
“Gaetz hinted in a tweet tonight that was part of their handshake deal and confirmed to CNN that was what he was referring to. It shows how the full extent of McCarthy’s concessions still not fully known.”